Friday, May 4, 2018

It Takes One Voice

This week- I did something tremendous.  Something that affected the lives of not just my children, but every single Kindergartner at my daughter's school.  Possibly the 1st and 2nd graders too..

I asked my school to move her music concert because of Shavuot's 2nd day of Observance.

On the one hand, I'm so thrilled I could jump over the moon.  On the other hand, I'm sort of in awe over my ability to have influence.

When we chose our little Linnie's school I knew we were making a great choice.  It's the only public IB program in the county- and it's also a K-8 school which means less driving down the road for Mama.

But I knew that there were going to be drawbacks.  One of those was that it was a 'local' school.  At least 50% of the people walk or bike to school each day. Which is great- for them, for the environment, and for the drop-off line!  But it also means that all the kids live together in a way that Linnie and I can't match.  We aren't just around the corner for a play date.

Additionally the school isn't very religiously diverse.  It's got a lot going for it with socioeconomic diversity and racial diversity, but Linnie is the only non-secular Jew in her class.  I was definitely expecting it to be a challenge to go from a Jewish school environment to a secular one with all those public school trappings of Christianity.  But I've been shocked by what has actually happened... I've been respected, listened to, and accommodated without concern.

When I walked into the office to comment that they placed the kindergarten music concert on the same day as Shavuot I was greeted initially with confusion- Shavuot?  But they were polite, and kind and curious.  And also willing to help.

The Principal came out and offered to call the music teacher- they would see what they could do.  Especially when I explained the part about Yizkor. 

It's an awe-inspiring moment to know that you have taken your commitment to your religion to a whole new level.

Now, like my cousin Greg said, can I really justify celebrating the 2nd day?  If it hadn't been Yizkor  would I have felt so strongly about my daughter missing school?  Questions for next year, since this year I've made my commitment....

Copyright their website has amazing graphics! 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Gifts For Mom- A Book

I'm occasionally asked if I would like to review a book- and usually, I say no.  There aren't very many Jewish publishers, so most of the books I'm asked to review are generic books.  But when this one came across my email inbox, I couldn't pass it up....

Did you know your favorite late night act also wrote children's books?  Wonderful children's books at that!  He has two kiddos himself, and while his first book focused on the Dad's (Your Baby's First Word Will Be DADA) he's turned his focus to the Moms.

What follows is truly a magical book for any mom.  It's just the truth!

With adorable pictures and cute animals who all, of course, love Mama!  Each page features a mother and child pair- wonderfully drawn with life and vitality.

In case you were concerned that it would be dull- I promise there is a surprise for all of us- especially those with kiddos who are old enough to read.

It has a wonderful affirming ending that rings so true for all of us- but I won't spoil it for you!

See- it's Baby approved!  And no, Mr.Fallon- he hasn't decided if it's tasty yet!

Monday, April 23, 2018

PJ Library- Your Turn

Do you and your family already receive PJ Library books?

I sure hope you do!  This amazing program brings Jewish stories right to your door for free.  It starts when your kids are 6months old and continues until they turn 8.  Then PJ Our Way starts and kids can choose the books they want until they are no longer a Jewish child- aka age 13.

We've been devoted fans of this project for years.  First while we lived in the South Bay, and again when we moved here to Orange County.  The PJ Library program is run through the Jewish Federation and Family Services in Irvine.

But I'm not really here to talk to you about PJ Library. I'm here to talk to you about PJ Parents.

Yup- it's our turn again!

In addition to sending books to our kiddos PJ Library also lets parents make a choice on a book selection for ourselves as well.  They've announced this year's selections:

My Jewish Year- one woman's journey celebrating all the holidays in a year.

Mamaleh Knows Best- witty parenting advice about raising resilient children Jewishly.

If All the Seas Were Ink- Seven years of daily Talmud and the impact it has on life.

My Russian Grandmother and her American Vaccum Cleaner- A family memoir about grandparents and the first generation of Israeli Jews

Jewish Holidays Cookbook- Recipes to make together as we spin through the Jewish year.

Once again they've created a wonderful selection, many titles I've never heard of before for us parents to engage and learn and create.  This year's selections seem to be very 'memoir' focused, with two of the books also being memoirs, and a third being about one person's journey celebrating all the holidays in a Jewish year.

Never-the-less I'm excited to make my choice.  Of course, I'm wavering between learning more Talmud, and more parenting skills.  In the end, I'll probably go with the parenting one, because reading about someone else studying Talmud when I want to be studying it myself seems a little lame....

Which one will you choose?  Let me know below, then we'll come back to discuss later :-)

Friday, April 13, 2018

Rosh Chodesh Iyar: The Wandering

 by  TheeErin

Have you celebrated Rosh Chodesh before? 

It's honestly not something that has really been part of my custom or tradition either.  Rosh Chodesh means the new month.  It's the time of month, every month, when we change from one month to the next.  Since we are on a lunar calendar, it's the celebration of the new moon.  So we celebrate the time when there isn't any moon at all.

Rosh Chodesh has traditionally been a celebration for women.  A chance to give ourselves to reflect, and refrain from doing work.  Rashi specifies that we should refrain from the work we did while building the Mishkan.  But today, we can choose to refrain from more types of work than just those (since I do so much sewing these days..)

The month of Iyar is a special time for observing Rosh Chodesh in my mind.  These days I'm thinking more about my Judaism each day as we recite the days of the Omer (look to your right- find the omer counter- jump in!).  It's an everyday reminder for me and my family that we are Jewish. 

And as a mom the month of Iyar and the idea of Rosh Chodesh during a new moon are particularly poinent.  It's the time when the Jewish people had left Egypt and are wandering the desert.  They've taken that leap of faith and are now subsumed with whether they've made the right choice.

You all know the story of the Golden Calf. (Click the link for a refresher- I'll wait)...

We had doubts.  Huge, undeniable, and scary doubts.  Just like we all do as Mothers. 

Everyday I make decisions.  Sometimes small (what's for dinner or snack) sometimes large (what school should my kindergartener go to!).  Sometimes we won't know the true outcome of these larger decisions for days, months, maybe even years.

We all have to choose a path.  And sometimes we have to stick to it.  Just like when we potty trained or sleep taught our children.  We choose a method, a style, an idea.  And we tried to stick to it.  They told us that before it got better, sometimes it would get worse. But how do we know if it's just rough going and the other side has glory, or if we've chosen wrongly?

As we transition into Iyar- and the Jewish people wander the desert searching and wondering alone- give yourself time this Rosh Chodesh to breathe.  To really silent yourself to listen to your intiution and your gut.  Allow yourself to follow those paths that have been working, and take a deep look at the ones you've just sort of wandered down.  Are they right for you?  For your children? For your family?  Trust your gut-then make a decision.

I have faith in you.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Parent Shift: We can always learn

While we are counting the Omer (how's that going?  It's only day 12 tonight, still lots of time to join in!) I thought I would share a wonderful resource that I happened upon.

Each day as parents we find our way through a million different moments.  Wake-up, breakfast, story, shoes, dishes, birds in the kitchen (No? Only me?), and the list goes on.  While we do our best to engage thoughtfully and fully in each moment there is only so much time in the day.  And only so much focus.

There are thousands of parenting books.  Thousands of philosophies.  Millions of blogs and podcasts.

So when I heard about The Parent Shift, I wasn't sure what to do.  Did I need another email in my inbox?  Would any of this make any difference to me or my children?  But when I heard DiAna's introductory YouTube video I could tell that this was going to be different. 

She's right, no one sends you home with a manual for your kids.  As the mother of three little ones, I know I've learned something from each of them.  And I'm thankful that I have. 

But have I lost my over-reaching view?  Do I still have hopes and dreams and a plan to help them become the adults I want to be?  We want them to be?

DiAna has gathered parenting experts from around the country (and the world) to help us learn their secrets.  And she makes it SO EASY!

It's a quick 30 minute conversation she has with each expert.  Honestly, sometimes it's a bit hard. She clearly had these over the phone with the recording equipment on her side, but I try not to let that bother me.  Each conversation has a tid-bit.  A moment that she helps us see that can help 'shift' our views.  My favorite so far is the three R's: Resilience, Respect and Responsibility. 

All the conversations center on the idea of Resilience- that we want our kids to be able to take the bad times in life (which we know are inevitable) and move forward.  Bounce back and keep moving.  And who dosen't want that for their children? 

Because the truth is- we're raising adults, not children.

*No, I'm not getting anything from DiAna except great advice.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Just Keep Counting....the Omer

How's your Omer counting going?  Have you been counting?  Do you know what the Omer are?

It comes from Leviticus 23:15 commanding us to count the days between Passover and Shavuot (aka the giving of the Torah on Mt.Sinai).  We count the days from when we gained freedom from Egypt until we received the Torah from G-d. 

There are several traditions we look at as we count the Omer.  My favorite is to look at the Omer as a period of personal growth.  I know, as a mom this can seem a bit crazy.  I've just turned my house upside down, cleaned my cabinets to within an inch of their lives (not to mention what I found in the couch cushions!) but honestly it's nice to focus.  The Passover cleaning can sometimes unleash a torrent of cleaning.  At least it's that way for me- I tend to purge like crazy.  But that can also add stress.  We had 23 people at the house for dinner.  The matzah crumbs are everywhere. 

Counting the Omer is a small chance to reconnect.  Looking at the Omer as a time for personal reflection, as a tiny little moment to recenter and recognize the importance of your spiritual self.  Because you are important.

In the spirit of the preparation for recieving the Torah from G-d we use this time to focus on 7 different parts of ourselves: Chesed (loving-kindness), Gevurah (discipline), Tipheret (beauty), Netzach (endurance), Hod (humility), Yesod (foundation), Malchut (leadership).  I'm sure every parent out there agrees that these are all character-traits that we would love our children to have.  And we all know that the best way to reinforce our goals for our kids is to live that way ourselves. 

As you can see above, I made little envelopes with numbers.  Inside each envelope is a little card which has the theme of the week, and a specific thing to do such as "Day 5: Do an anonymous act of Kindness."  Each one has the theme of the week, and quote for the whole week.

The backside has the basic prayer in Hebrew, transliteration and English.  That way there's no need to find the prayer while you are having your moment.  You are supposed to count not only the day, but also the week count of the Omer.

I created these cards myself.  I know I used a template or got the quotes from somewhere, but for the life of my internet searching I can't seem to find it.  If it's from you- please let me know, and I apologize for not honoring and acknowledging it myself.

It might seem daunting to make them yourself (especially since I can't find the cool resource I used to make them) so you can buy a small deck from CCAR.  Ritualwell also has some great thoughts on how to be mindful about the process and enhance your meditation too.

I add a few pieces of candy to some of the envelopes as we go through it- is it sort of sacrilegious that I've included Easter candy?!  Whatever works, right?

Need some other ideas- PJ Library has a cool grouping, and Kosher on a Budget has a great free (for Facebook Fans) printable calendar you can get in a few minutes. 

Need something to get your 'better half' in the mood?  Try the Homer Calendar... Husband loved it!

Not into something physical- here's your solution: the Chabad Omer App.  Yup, that should not surprise you. 

Happy Omer Counting! 

Friday, April 6, 2018

Matzah Pizza- Must Do for Passover

One of our Passover traditions has been Matza Lasagna at the house of a very good friend- The Buckley's.  This year we aren't able to see them.  Lynnie has been sick with a cold, and our friends have a new baby who is just a few weeks old.  Those two definitely don't mix.

So, what's the next best thing to lasagna- Pizza of course!  A new family tradition.

The best part about these pizzas- super easy to accommodate picky eaters with individual pizzas.  Toppings are totally up to you, but cheese and tomato sauce are must do's.  The Trader Joes Pizza sauce is good for Passover (though not Kosher!), but any other tomato sauce will work easily too.

Just brush on some sauce, add some toppings; we like grilled onions and olives and fresh cut tomatoes; then pop them into the oven.  We put them into the oven at 400degrees convection, and it took about 15 minutes to melt the cheese.

Happy girls!  Especially about a diary meal- since we use so much meat over Passover.

Hope your holiday is going well, and dinners are just as delicious even without bread.
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